How Illegal Fishing Threatens Development and Security

How Illegal Fishing Threatens Development and Security
Sri Lankan fishermen stand on a fishing vessel as it leaves a fishery harbor in Negombo on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Oct.15, 2014 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Environmental crime, despite being a more than $200 billion black market industry, has long been viewed as a tree hugger issue. However, an increasing body of evidence suggests that protecting our oceans, forests and wildlife is not only a matter of conservation, but one of global development and even national security. As a result, governments are finally taking more decisive action.

Consider the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Since the 1960s, fish consumption has risen from an annual average of 22 pounds per person to nearly double that today. With the world’s middle class projected to reach 4.9 billion by 2030, global demand for fish, already at record highs, is set to keep rising. Already, 90 percent of fisheries are overfished or fully exploited, setting demand to far outstrip supply. As supply contracts and prices rise, lucrative profits are encouraging a surge in IUU fishing. In this light, some scientists have predicted complete fisheries collapse as early as 2048.

However, the $10 billion to $23 billion annual black market in fishing threatens much more than conservation efforts. Depleting the world’s oceans of fish is a serious development challenge as well. Developing countries account for 80 percent of fisheries production globally, with exports valued at $30 billion. Fish is the highest export commodity from developing nations and surpasses the next highest, coffee, by over 200 percent.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.